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Fancy owning an Italian twin?

Published: 25 March 2018

Updated: 21 March 2018

When Ducati launched the 851 in 1988, it was a seminal moment in their history. With water cooling, four valves per cylinder and the potential for big power, it set Ducati down a path of countless WSB titles and numerous iconic superbikes.

But now that path is reaching its end. With the new V4, Ducati are winding down development of ultra high-performance twins – although they will carry making the 959 Panigale and the 1199R Final Edition for now. But if you think a superbike from Bologna should only have two cylinders, MCN have complied a list of all the V-twins to tempt you to dive into the used market and search out that slice of Italian exotica from Ducati's legendary two-cylinder range...

1998 - 1992 Ducati 851

Faced with an ailing company and a dire model range (Ducati sold just 1765 bikes in 1985) new boss Claudio Castiglioni needed a talisman. He found it in the shape of the 851. Boasting a brand new water-cooled four-valve desmo engine, that was also the first fuel-injected Ducati, the 851 brought Ducati to the attention of a worldwide sporting audience thanks to the new World Superbike series. Ducati, a small factory in Italy, won the 1990 WSB title and then retained it in 1991 and 1992 and riders suddenly started to ask where they could buy one of those fast red bikes.

  • Price new £10,750
  • Price now From £6000
  • Watch out for Originality – OE cans and plastics are worth their weight in gold.

1993 Ducati 888

In terms of road bikes, the 888 only existed for one short year, however the race bikes had been 888cc (or more) for most of their lives and so had the homologation SP models. The 888 added a larger 2mm bore to the 851’s motor as well as a few cosmetic changes but the Strada was basically
a stop-gap model. 

  • Price new £10,250
  • Price now From £6000
  • Watch out for The paint on the engine flakes off, watch out for touch up paint.

1994 - 1998 Ducati 916

The 916 was a revolution in every sense of the word. Although the 916cc engine was heavily based around the 851’s Desmoquattro, it was expanded in capacity and housed in a machine that was jaw-droppingly beautiful thanks to the genius of Massimo Tamburini. As well as looking stunning, the 916 absolutely destroyed its Japanese rivals on track. The sight of Foggy on his blood red Ducati became the stuff of 1990s two-wheeled legend as motorcycling’s poster boy arrived. And by that we mean the 916, not Foggy…

  • Price new £12,800
  • Price now From £6500
  • Watch out for A noisy sprag clutch and dodgy reg/recs.

1990 - 2001 Ducati 996

With the YZF-R1 heralding the fact litre bikes were here to stay, Ducati upped the capacity of the 916 to 996cc to give it 112bhp. Ducati were on a high but the race bike was struggling and Honda hit back with their own V-twin, the SP-1. 

  • Price new £11,400
  • Price now From £6500
  • Watch out for Alternator nut comes loose and that can cause damage.

2002 - 2004 Ducati 998

The Testastretta had appeared on the 996R, but this was a mishmash of a motor and the 998 debuted a final production version. It allowed for larger valves to be fitted, which went with the 998’s big bore/short stroke engine design. 

  • Price new £10,450
  • Price now From £7000
  • Watch out for Service history.

2003 - 2006 Ducati 999

The 999 introduced CAN-bus. A world-first for bikes, Controller Area Network allows the various sensors to communicate, setting the path for future electronic aids. Despite dominating WSB the 999’s weird looks saw it flop in showrooms.

  • Price new £11,250
  • Price now From £5500
  • Watch out for Wiring behind the battery box and the fuel pump and headlight relays failing.

2007 - 2008 Ducati 1098

The 1098 returned Ducati to what they do best – building beautiful and fast V-twins with cutting-edge technology. The Evoluzione engine saw Ducati quote power figures in the 160bhp area, which was on a par with the inline fours, and it did it with longer service intervals and excellent reliability. Then, to go with a beautiful modern 916-style look, the 1098R added cool electronic gizmos such as a built-in datalogger and MotoGP-derived traction control. 

  • Price new £11,250
  • Price now From £6000
  • Watch out for Early 1098s lacked a drain hole in their swingarm, causing the shock mount to rust.

2009 - 2011 Ducati 1198

Rolling the 1098R’s traction control system out onto their 1198 models, and by the end even adding a quickshifter to go with the DDA. Although, ironically, the least successful V-twin in terms of race wins it did get the 2011 WSB title.

  • Price new £12,995
  • Price now From £7500
  • Watch out for Fuel tank breather can fur-up. The clutch slave cylinder can leak.

Ducati 1199 Panigale

The new Superquadro engine’s design allowed Ducati to showcase its full electronic might and as such boasted traction control, engine braking control, ABS, electronic suspension and a ride-by-wire throttle, giving riders the confidence to explore its amazing 193bhp in relative safety – this was a V-twin boasting a claimed power to weight ratio of over 1:1. Ducati then added a monocoque chassis and typical Italian style to create the most advanced sportsbike on the market.

  • Price new £16,250
  • Price now From £9800
  • Watch out for It has had five recall notices. Check on

Ducati 1299 Panigale

The machine that will see the end of the V-twin’s reign as Ducati’s sporting engine of choice is a fitting swansong. The 1299 is the ultimate V-twin sportsbike (excluding the likes of the exotic Superleggera) that shows just how far this configuration can be pushed. Since 1988 Ducati have evolved their V-twin from an 851cc that made a claimed 95bhp with 52ftlb of torque to a 1285cc beast that pumps out 194bhp with 101ftlb of torque. Or, to put it another way, twice as much power and torque in 30 years with only 434cc added. Wow!

  • Price new £17,995
  • Price now From £13,000
  • Watch out for Outstanding finance – always perform an HPI check.


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